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Gold Star Marching Band
LocationFargo, ND
ConferenceMissouri Valley Football Conference
DirectorDr. Sigurd Johnson
Fight song"On Bison Fight Song (We are the Pride)"

The Gold Star Marching Band or also known as "The Pride of North Dakota"[1][2] is the marching band of North Dakota State University. It is a non-auditioned band (with the exception of the battery section), open to all majors. With approximately 220 members, the band is one of the largest organizations on campus.

About the GSMB

The GSMB does pregame and halftime performances for the NDSU Bison Football team in the Fargodome. The band usually plays seven shows a year including all home football games and usually one away game, marches the homecoming parade, and does a handful of other performances at NDSU and the Fargo-Moorhead area. The GSMB has also performed in the Minnesota State Fair in 2017, 2018 and 2019; marching in the Sunday parade. Missing or empty |title= (help)


The GSMB practices Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 4:00-5:45pm, and Saturday morning rehearsals on game days. The band practices indoors in the music building of the Reineke Fine Arts Center. Outdoors, the band practices either on the football practice field, or Dacotah Field, which in 2017 was updated with brand new field turf. Despite starting band camp with warm temperatures, the band sometimes ends up practicing with snow on the field at the end of the season. The GSMB usually does not regularly practice in the Fargodome, only on game day mornings and days when the dome does not have a prior event.

Game Day

The GSMB in the star formation
The GSMB in the star formation

Game Day starts with mandatory section breakfasts at 5 AM. All band members are then present for morning rehearsal at the Fargodome. After morning rehearsal the band has a later call time to be in the music building. At call, all sections are accounted for and uniforms inspected. The band then goes outside to start the march over. The march over is a seven or so block parade-style march from the music building, through the NDSU campus, up to the Fargodome.

Once at the dome, the band performs pregame consisting of a field entrance, a fanfare to different sides of the stadium, On Bison while marching down the field, a trio of patriotic songs (Battle Hymn of the Republic, Grand Old Flag/ America the Beautiful), while forming the shape of a star. The band plays the NDSU alma mater The Yellow and The Green and directly after the song the announcer proclaims "We ARE the Pride of North Dakota". The band then forms "NDSU" while playing Fight Song (We are the Pride of North Dakota)[3] and forms "BISON" facing the student section side of the dome. The band marches towards the team entrance, forms a tunnel for the team to run out, and plays On Bison as the team runs out. When the lights come back on, the band plays the Star-Spangled Banner, and finally the exits the field.

The band sits in the south end-zone directly next to the student section(s). The band then performs a show at halftime, and returns to the stands for the conclusion of the game.


2010 GSMB performing at halftime
2010 GSMB performing at halftime

The Gold Star Marching Band (GSMB) currently includes:


The Gold Star Band owes much of its existence to a personal tragedy. In spring 1903, Clarence Simeon Putnam, a local Fargo doctor, watched his downtown Fargo medical practice burn to the ground – five days after his insurance had lapsed. Essentially out of a job, Putnam landed a position teaching arithmetic at North Dakota Agricultural College. While the next set of events is not entirely clear, a need arose for leadership of NDAC’s ROTC band. Putnam, a cornetist, found himself in charge of 14 members known as the “Cadet Band” on April 14, 1903.

While the band regards the first full year of Doc Putnam’s association with the band (1904) as its “birthday,” student newspaper references indicate a band existed as early as 1901. In fall 1902, Claude Nugent, secretary of the college, and Harry M. Rudd, a local musician, purchased instruments from a local farmer with the intention of creating an NDAC band. Rudd directed the band in some capacity until April 1903 when C.S. Putnam took over.

GSMB in the 70s
GSMB in the 70s
Band in the 80s
Band in the 80s

Putnam’s leadership was quite dynamic and the band thrived under his direction. This peaked in 1923-24 when the band as an ROTC unit earned its third consecutive 100 percent inspecting rating, which entitled it to a presidential citation and a “Gold Star” rating. Putnam incorporated the moniker into the band’s name and the Gold Star Band was born. Following Putnam’s death in 1944, the band’s numbers deteriorated until former Gold Star Band member William Euren became director in 1948. Euren restored the band’s pre-war numbers and worked toward expanding its persona beyond its military role.

Euren retired in 1968, and Roger Sorenson became director of bands for two years before leaving in 1970. During his brief tenure, Sorenson engendered a level of lasting loyalty among alumni who performed under his direction. Orville Eidem arrived in 1970 and was director of bands for the next 23 years. Besides the perpetuation of the marching band tradition, Eidem also had a great love of jazz and expanded the scope of NDSU’s program. The band also played a role in lobbying efforts for a new facility. Reineke Fine Arts Center replaced Putnam Hall and the old Festival Hall in 1981.

Several other names have been associated with the band. While C.S. Putnam was away from the band in 1914-17, Harold Bachman and B.A. Orr were directors. Edward D. Schroepfer directed the band following Putnam’s death. Roy Johnson also played a significant role in the band’s musical leadership during the Sorenson years.

2008 Drum Majors
2008 Drum Majors

Orville Eidem retired in 1993, at which time Wayne F. Dorothy became the new director. Dorothy was previously Assistant Director of Bands under Eidem. Then in 1999, Dorothy retired and was replaced by Warren Olfert as director of bands.

2007 was a year for changes when Dr. Sigurd Johnson was hired as the newly created Athletics Band director leading the marching band and pep band. For the 2008 season, the band received new uniforms, recovered gold drums, and the addition of a front ensemble (pit). The GSMB is currently growing and is evident in the growth of the band from 83 in 2007, to 163 in 2008, to 185 in 2009, and to 220 in 2010.[4]


March Over

The march over is a parade-like march through the NDSU campus. It starts from the music building, up Albrecht Boulevard through campus, and around the front entrance to the Fargodome. Once at the dome, the band splits into three bands and performs for tailgaters in the west dome lot, for the president's reception, and for fans in front of the Fargodome. The band joins together and enters the Fargodome from the north ramp of the dome. The march over is known for its various hijinks including chants, random follow the leader, section swapping of instruments, and dances. Stop-sign slapping used to be a common tradition of march over, however this has been discontinued due to safety concern.

In the past there used to be a night march over every year in which the band would wear glow sticks and lights in the twilight of a fall game night.

2010 Band in the Stands of the Fargodome
2010 Band in the Stands of the Fargodome

Victory Polka

After a Bison victory in a football, basketball, or volleyball game; the band performs the traditional playing and singing of all 5 verses of "In Heaven there is no Beer". This stirred up controversy after the 2016 victory against the Iowa Hawkeyes, who also uses the song in football victories. Various rumors spread across social media accusing NDSU of mocking Iowa's defeat.

The Yellow and the Green

Every time the Gold Star Marching Band has a group meal together, the president of the band or one of the current Drum Majors will ask the band to stand and sing the NDSU alma mater, the Yellow and the Green. Rookies are required to learn the SATB parts quickly, because they will have to sing it by themselves at the ending band banquet.

Band Banquet and Concert

The Band always holds a band banquet towards the end of the year for the graduating/exiting members. Different awards are given out such as, Section of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and section awards like the green trumpet (member to member), the grumpet (for the most deserving rookie), The white trombone (for the most deserving rookie), and the black trombone (member to member), or the newly established Blue Saxophone in honor of a band member that perished in a car crash in early 2017.

Other awards given at the banquet are meant as more humorous than the above, and include the likes of tongue-in-cheek superlatives "Back in High School", "Wolf in Sheepish Clothing", and "Please Be Quiet" (for those who are), and "No SERIOUSLY Be QUIET" (for those who aren't).

The band also performs the Sounds of the Gridiron concert at the end of the season. All of the halftime shows, the pregame, and some of the stands music are all performed.



  1. ^ "North Dakota State University: DVFA: Music Department: Ensembles". North Dakota State University Division of Fine Arts. Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
  2. ^ "North Dakota State University Gold Star Bands". North Dakota State University Gold Star Marching Band. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
  3. ^ "North Dakota State University Bison Athletics: Tradition and Spirit". North Dakota State University Athletics. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
  4. ^ "North Dakota State University Gold Star Marching Band History". North Dakota State University Gold Star Marching Band. Archived from the original on 2011-01-28. Retrieved 2009-10-21.